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It will be difficult – but not impossible – to detect the chemical breakdown products of any nerve agents that may have been used in the Damascus attack, but access to the victims could be critical in proving the illicit use of chemical weapons.

...and how a cuppa can put the lid on cancer

Drinking Chinese tea isn't just trendy - it might stop you getting cancer. But the good news does not extend to the traditional British cuppa, because its brewing process destroys the chemical that makes green tea so beneficial, writes Charles Arthur.

Vitamin study shows millions need daily help

Unrecognised vitamin deficiency may be affecting millions of people because their genetic make-up affects their capacity to absorb nutrients from food, scientists say.

Letter: Why the dinosaurs were prone to gout

Sir: There is an excellent reason why Tyrannosaurus rex, and other reptiles and birds, might show signs of gout (report, 22 May).

... and other natural remedies

Plants and herbs being examined for their anti-cancer properties.

Obituary: Norman Pirie

Norman Pirie was a biochemist distinguished for his pioneering work on plant viruses, a crusading advocate for the dietary use of leaf protein and, more broadly, a man of science who wrote with force and lucidity on many scientific questions of his time.

Appliance to science, but women still miss out on first degree

While Oxford asks why female graduates get fewer top marks, a trio of a cademics say it is to do with the way men show off

Blood service chiefs could face charges

Irish blood transfusion authorities could face criminal charges following the report of a tribunal of inquiry which found that they continued providing blood plasma to patients long after they were told it was contaminated with the hepatitis C virus.

Letter: In the mind

In reply to Robin Blake's review of The Sickening Mind by Paul Martin (Review, 23 February), all medical students are taught the clinical features of idiopathic and psychosomatic illnesses and the importance of the doctor/patient relationship. There is a vast (clinical) literature from "the paper rose" as a trigger of an asthma attack to case studies where a cancer followed soon after the psychological shock of life crisis, (such as bereavement). Doctors do not "forget" after drawing "a few vague maps" and not "face" the possibilities.

Nature: Heartache proves a gerbil is for life

Lovelorn gerbils separated from their mates display the same symptoms as depressed divorcees, scientists have found. Researchers at Leeds University believe the rodents could provide useful models for studying the biochemistry of depression in humans.

Grow your own health tonic - can wheatgrass work wonders?

In search of the trendiest organic fix? Look no further than Planet Organic, a West London natural food supermarket, now supplying the latest US wonder tonic - wheatgrass juice.

Nothing to fear from techno-corn

Genetic engineers have encountered apathy and uninformed hostility from the public

Letter: Farm antibiotics the real danger

Sir: In your leading article on food scares (4 December), you say that genetic engineering of food "should be no more controversial than any other form of scientific research".

POP : Ezio Borderline, London

Sometimes, in a back-handed sort of way, you think there really may be hope for Britain. For example, wandering down Charing Cross Road last Friday, you might have wondered who could possibly be playing the Borderline. One of London's least appetising venues, this hell-hole had a queue stretching practically to Waterloo. To see? Ezio. C'mon - obscure twosome from Cambridge; play songs of lamentation, dreams and desire on a couple of acoustics; debut LP Black Boots on Latin Feet out a year ago, good reviews, sank without trace, though it probably gets played to death at dinner parties around Islington's Canonbury Square. Further clue for stragglers: Sue Lawley.

i see a tall, dark accounts executive with nice fingernails

So they didn't employ you . Was it your experience that was wrong, your appearance - or maybe your star sign? Bill Saunders on personnel hocus pocus

Competition: Literary quiz

This gastro-literary quiz is divided into three courses, each with an element of self-service. We give you all the ingredients - both the questions and the answers - all you have to do is mix them together to taste. The prizes for the winner are all the food and drink books in the Dillons Christmas catalogue. There are also three runners-up prizes of pounds 100 of Dillons Gift Vouchers and an additional 10 runners-up prizes of pounds 50 Dillons gift vouchers.
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
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Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

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